Last month we hit a pretty big milestone in our travels. Between the two of us, we have now visited 6 continents and 50 countries in the world! We’ve traversed through Asia, Australia, New Zealand, visited countries in Western and Eastern Europe, checked out parts of Africa, and this year, we are on a mission to explore more of Central and South America.
When it comes to traveling the world, you can trust us to do it on a budget. You guys know that we don’t come from rich families and that our “travel fund” comes from hard work and years of savings. And now that we have quit our jobs to travel the world full-time, being able to see the world for less has become our motto (and really the only way we can sustain our lifestyle).
If you are anything like us and love seeing your travel dollar go further, then this list is for you! We’ve put together our list of 10 Best Budget Destination to Visit in 2016. Based on our experience, you can easily travel in all of these countries for USD $25-$50/per person/day.
Thailand has long been our all time favourite budget friendly destination. We love it there so much that we have traveled to Thailand more than 5 times over the last few years. Each time come back in awe of how affordable and diverse Thailand is. It can be your well-deserved beach holiday with some great diving, a party destination, a place to get off the beaten path, trek into the hill country, or eat your way through Thailand’s incredible cuisine.
You can still find dorms across the country as cheap as $5/night, eat a great meal for $2-3, and enjoy a cold Chang beer for about $1.5.
After spending a month in Indonesia in 2015, we quickly fell in love with this amazing country. Forget your typical trip to Kuta Beach, Bali, and choose to explore other parts of Indonesia, for a chance to gain a better understanding of the local culture, Indonesian customs, and traditions. Our favourite is the Java region where you can marvel at 1,000-year old temples, roam through the streets of fascinating towns, hike to the heart of active volcanoes, or witness sunrise at the peak of the magnificent Mt Bromo.
Accommodation in Java will set you back by about $10/pp, but food is still very cheap, with 2 people able to dine for less than $5.
“If you’re interested in history, culture and hearty but cheap food, Xi’an, China should be on your list”, says the author of Forbes.com article The Ten Best Budget Travel Destinations for 2016. But in our opinion, it’s not just Xi’an that’s worth exploring on a budget. Stay away from fancy restaurants and expensive clubs in pricey Beijing and Shanghai and you can easily make do with a budget of $50/day in these huge metropolises. But our advice is to explore even further. Head southwest and visit the ancient gems in Yunnan province, like the town of Lijiang, one of my favourite places in the entire world, explore the Shilin forest, hike in Tiger Leaping Gorge, or explore the karst mountain scenery of Yangshuo.
The further away you go, the cheaper it will get, but keep in mind that it will also be harder to get around without some knowledge of Mandarin. Study before you go and you won’t have to rely on guided tours and expensive packages!
There are many ways to experience India. Stay in 5-star hotels and dine in Mumbai’s best restaurants and you are bound to max out your credit card in no time. But travel the way locals do it, think trains, street food, and homestays and you’ll be able to stretch your dollar that much further. And, of course, this way you’ll get to experience the true India with all the good, the bad, and the ugly that comes with it.
Surprised to see Australia on the list? We know, the stereotype is that Australia is one of the most expensive countries in the world. After living there for over 3 years and traveling extensively through all of its regions, we have discovered that it is possible to travel Australia on a budget of less than $50/day. But what’s even better is that due to the terrible exchange rate your US $ will now go that much further Down Under. You can see more, do more, and stay longer!
Australia is a great country for those thinking of embarking on their first solo trip, but it’s just as great of a destination for couples and families. Here are just a few reasons why we think you should travel to Australia this year!
Forget England, France, Switzerland, and especially Scandinavia. If you are traveling on a budget you’ll be hard pressed to make it in any of the Western European countries for under $50/day. But Greece is one of the few exceptions.
“Due to the country’s ongoing economic difficulties, the cost of holidaying in Greece is lower than it used to be”, says the author of the Flight Centre’s 12 of the world’s cheapest holiday destinations for 2016. Prices in Greece have plummeted over the last few years, but Greece’s beauty and deep history is still there to discover. Choose to travel there in the shoulder season, when the crowd (and the prices) have subsided, or opt to skip the glamorous Cyclades islands, and stick to mainland instead.
Eastern Europe (Ukraine, Poland, Romania, Serbia)
If you are itching for a European trip in the summer, Eastern Europe is where it’s at. Having been to all of those countries, we can attest of how incredibly cheap they are compared to Western Europe and without a doubt, just as picturesque. Max always bring up this mind-boggling story from our time in Kiev. “We dined at a really fancy, specialty chocolate house with 6 other people, indulging in phenomenal pastry, cakes, and gourmet coffee and our bill for 8 people was under $10” – Beat THAT!
Prices in Serbia, Poland and Romania were comparatively higher than that, but still significantly cheaper than anywhere else in Europe.
If our recent visit to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua’s famous beach town is any indication, then Nicaragua is a way better value for money than it’s neighbour, Costa Rica. We were dining for $5/meal, drinking 2 for 1 cocktails for $3-4, and enjoying surfing on their best beaches for a fraction of a price than you would in Costa Rica. Getting around is easy thanks to a great network of chicken busses running from all major cities, and finding a decent dorm bed for as little as $5 is still possible!
This year we’ve got big plans to explore South America, including trips to Peru, Colombia, and Brazil. A few years ago, we learned that Brazil is not a cheap destination and we know that our Machu Picchu trek in Peru won’t be budget friendly either. The only way to balance out these 2 expensive trips this year was to add a visit to Bolivia, one of the cheapest countries in South America to our plans.
From what we hear Bolivia has long been a favourite with backpackers in South America thanks to the fact that it’s very affordable. We know that we can find rooms for as cheap as $5-10/night, eat at local restaurants for less than $5 and explore places like La Paz, the Uyuni Salt flats, and Sucre for $10-20/pp.
We didn’t know much about Venezuela until last year, when a Max’s family (sans Max) traveled there to hike Venezuela’s famous Mount Roraima. Their stories blew us away! Their week long all inclusive hike cost them under $200, they were drinking beers for $0.30, eating massive meals for just $1-2, and recalling that activities like fishing and paragliding could be organized for as cheap as $10-$15. That’s unheard of!
But don’t think we are clueless. We heard all the travel warnings and the scary stories of crime in Venezuela, but then we read articles like this and this and it really does sound like the situation is better than the media makes it out to be.
Needless to say, Venezuela has definitely been added to our list of cheap countries to visit this year and since we are all about sharing our discoveries with you, we think it should be added to yours too!